Monday, February 15, 2016

How She Stopped Feeling the Benn and Started Feeling Hil

It's interesting as her complaint is something I've highlighted. It comes down to this: I've argued that in his campaign Bernie has been less a politician than a game show host or even a political telemarketer.

This was something that over time begun to worry Laura Clawson. I must say she's brave writing this at Daily KOS but clearly she got an excellent reception as her post got over 10000 shares on Facebook, just under 1900 RTs on Twitter and 556 recommends.

"Economic inequality is at the top of the list of issues I care about. I basically spend my life trying to work it into discussions of every other issue, because I usually think it belongs there. I had a lot of training on that front: When I once described having fled a shoe store after two salespeople began arguing, in front of me, over which of them had approached me first and should get my business, my father said “that’s what decades of stagnating wages will get you.” So a presidential candidate who wanted to talk seriously about inequality? Great!"

"Except … somehow Sanders has lost me on even that. I simultaneously want a more serious and nuanced class analysis—something deeper than the talking points, more flexibly targeted to specific questions rather than broad strokes—and more willingness to depart from the talking points, to acknowledge that sometimes you really can’t turn a question to your subject of choice. When the time is right to talk about inequality, try to fit the statistics to the moment. When the time is wrong, at least pretend to notice. Clearly Sanders’ talking points are working for lots of people, and I don’t doubt his commitment on these issues, but the repetition has failed to give me anything new or interesting to hang onto. And beyond inequality, the repetition is a problem with how he talks about—or avoids talking about—other major issues, which he so often dismisses. A president has to be willing to take on issues they don’t necessarily care the most about, able to become an expert on anything, able to pivot and start to care. I need more than “trust me,” and I don’t see Sanders failing to give me that, I see him refusing to do so. That’s not confidence-inspiring."

Yes, Bernie is a kind of two-edged sword. His strength of staying on message, of simplicity is also his weakness-is this all he really knows about and cares about? This is why those concerned about issues of race, gender, etc. tend to feel him much less.

She then talks about the way he has sold his healthcare plan.

"Sanders’ healthcare plan is also not confidence-inspiring. I’m not talking here about political possibilities of passing it under this Congress. It will be difficult-to-impossible to pass anything under a Republican Congress, but Democrats have to talk about what they want to do, anyway. I’m talking about the policy and the way it’s been sold. I think the first time I questioned Sanders’ honesty—one of the bedrocks of his campaign, of his entire political persona—was because his Medicare for All plan encourages voters to believe that there would be zero trade-offs, that somehow Medicare for All would provide more coverage than the Medicare we have now, that this single-payer plan would cover more than any other nation's single-payer plan."

"The reality is that we might not be fighting with insurance companies over what care would be covered, but we’d be fighting with the government if we wanted care that wasn’t covered. We wouldn’t just be strolling into doctors’ offices listing off what we wanted. There would be guidelines and limitations. Now, fighting with the government over whether care was medically necessary might well be better than fighting with an insurance company trying to protect its profits. At least the fight would be on the merits of the care. And a single-payer system in which we all had the same limits would be a massive improvement in equality over a system in which too many people still can’t afford to go to the doctor, while many other people increase waste in the system by getting more care than they need at higher prices than are reasonable just because they have good insurance. There should be limits on the care we get, and I fault Sanders for not saying so. In the end, I’m uncomfortable with a candidate and campaign that is so far from honest about what one of its biggest policy proposals would entail. Again, screw the politics—the policy is a false campaign promise. A big one, made under cover of enormous self-righteousness."

This is the crux of what bothers me about Bernie. When he's' asked to get into the weeds he returns to trying to speak to people's aspirations. How do we get single payer, how does it work, what are the tradeoffs?

This is why I call him a telemarketer. I've done telemarketing and this is how you sell people. You want to get them off the weeds and back onto how great they will feel with your product. You want them to take what you say at total face value.

So when Bernie is asked he returns to the common meme: Why are we the one country that can't have single payer? I refuse to accept that.

He goes back to how great it would be if had single payer not responding to the questions many people have on how we get there and what the real tradeoffs are.

People forget now but Obamacare was the conservative alternative to Hillarycare back in 1994. But what she learned from that bruising battle is this: First of all, don't screw with what people already have.

Bernie wants to avoid any question of not just how you'd' pay for it but that not everyone would be better off.

But now she makes a very good point and this undercuts the entire theory of change we hear from the Bernie folks: there's going to be a political revolution and that revolution means electing Bernie Sanders President. Here is a common exposition of this claim.

What I like is she makes some key distinctions.

"But about the politics of Sanders’ policy proposals. I believe in social movements as outside forces exerting force on political parties. The parties want to win, the movements have to create that self-interest, make the policies the path to victory. And I’ve long been frustrated by people who want the Democratic Party to be their social movement, or who think that strategy equals ideology. The Sanders campaign has become the latest embodiment of those frustrations. How will Sanders win not just the presidency but the ability to get a big agenda through Congress? The people will rise up. Except Bernie Sanders is not organizing the people to rise up. He’s running a fairly conventional presidential campaign. Sanders is a long-time member of Congress who has yet to create the kind of movement he’s now suggesting will simply rise up despite the absence of the kind of organizing effort that would take. This will be difficult, and he’s not fully owning that or explaining how we’ll get through the challenges, especially given below-2008 Democratic turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s a set of promises resting on a fundamental misdiagnosis of how movements and organizing work, and I don’t know whether Sanders believes his line or is selling a line, let alone which would be more damning."

Thank you. A political movement is not a social movement. I also like that she references that he has never developed such a social movement. This is the problem with his theory of political change.

As noted previously, Bernie Sanders has no resemblance to FDR. He took money from Wall St and didn't actually promise big change ironically as a candidate. He promised to balance the budget and cut spending if you can believe it and this at the height of the Depression.

What this shows to me is that there is a huge gulf between campaigning and governing. Yet, in office he did Glass-Steagall and put financial regulation on a footing that would give us financial stability for the next 40 years.

Bernie is actually the opposite of FDR who promised little but delivered a great deal. Bernie promises the moon but can't deliver any of it.

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